Outdoors Column: Everybody’s Having Babies

At this time of year, watching wildlife becomes even more interesting than usual. Everything is having their young and bringing them out to introduce them to the world. Most baby animals are cute. One possible exception is a baby vulture. They are so ugly, I am not sure even a mother could love them, though they do feel obligated to feed them. Baby vultures are smelly, ugly little creatures that live on or close to the ground. If they feel threatened, they hiss or vomit at their tormentors. This is enough to discourage most things from harassing them.

 

Baby Vulture

 

More on the cute side are baby deer. They have a much higher degree of “aww factor.” No matter how many times a person sees fawns, it is hard to not say, “aww, aren’t they cute.” I was picking up big round bales of hay Saturday with the tractor. At one point, I drove near some tall grass not far from the edge of the timber. A fawn jumped up and ran off as though something terrible was about to happen. I am sure, seeing a tractor for the first time in its life was a bit terrifying. A few minutes later, a doe, followed with her fawn, that was not very old, ran out of the timber and stopped in the shade of a tree in the middle of the field. Another doe and her fawn ran out as this one ran in. It was one of those “aww moments.”

 

Doe and Fawn

 

It is easy to tell when the song birds that hang around the house have taught the hatchlings to fly. One day, we will see four or six Baltimore oriels casually eating grape jelly we so generously put out for them. The next day, a whole flock of orioles show up, empty the dish, and complain until we get them some more. When orioles learn to fly, I think the first place they fly is to the grape jelly. The same can be said for the hummingbirds. One day there are a few and the next thing we know, they are bouncing off the windows and coming uncomfortably close to running into people. It seems young hummingbirds learn directional stability sometime after they have learned to fly fast.

 

Spring is an enjoyable time to be observing nature. The young are fun to watch, whether it is a wobbly baby raccoon or a bluebird, old enough to fly yet still begging its mother to be fed. At this time of year, if you look around, babies are everywhere.